One hundred fifteen stranded women overseas Filipino workers in Amman, Jordan today renewed their plea to the PH government to attend on their repatriation, according to Filipino migrant rights group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME).
On April 22, 2013, around 30 of the 115 stranded OFWs, who are supposed to provisionally stay at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC), run and manage by the Philippine Embassy in Amman, Jordan, went out of the FWRC and staged a picket in front of the Philippine Overseas Labor office and OWWA building (POLO-OWWA) to press PH embassy and labor officials of their long-awaited repatriation. (See attached photos below).
“Most of the stranded women OFWs have been staying at FWRC in Amman, Jordan since 2010. Their supposed temporary stay at FWRC seems have become permanent amid repeated plea for their repatriation,” said MIGRANTE vice chairperson John Leonard Monterona, also regional coordinator of Migrante International in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Monterona said majority of the 115 stranded women OFWs were victim of human trafficking as confirmed by stranded OFWs during recent exchanges with Monterona.
“Unfortunately after working for several weeks and months, they fall prey to their respective employers’ abuses and maltreatment. Others have not been paid of their salaries for months, while some were falsely charged of stealing and illicit relationship by their employers prompting them to run away from their sponsor-employer,” Monterona revealed.
Monterona cited the case of ‘Marimar’ (not her real name), 37, from Laguna. She falls prey to illegal recruiter and was deployed on January 28, 2010 to Amman, Jordan to work as a household service worker (HSW). She claimed that she was sexually harassed by her employer after two months working for the latter prompting her to run away and sought assistance and refuge to PH embassy and labor officials in Amman.
Marimar has stayed 9 months at the FWRC and sensing there was no development on her case, she was forced to leave at the FWRC but was nabbed by Jordan immigration authorities a week after.
Monterona, citing the stranded women OFWs, said since they run away from their employers and many have no passport as it is usually confiscated by their employer, the PH embassy issued travel documents.
“The problem is that Jordan immigration authorities didn’t honor the travel documents issued by the PH embassy to the stranded OFWs to get out-passes and eventually leave Jordan,” Monterona revealed.
The stranded OFWs were told to report to Jordan immigration office for ‘interview’ on a schedule basis, but this was stop on April 25, 2013 by the Jordan immigration authorities themselves.
“In such case, the PH embassy and labor officials in Jordan should lobby to the Jordan immigration authorities the acceptance of issued travel documents to the 115 stranded OFWs to obtain out-passes,” Monterona suggested.
Monterona, citing humanitarian consideration, calls on the Jordan govt. to relax its immigration rules and accept the PH govt.-issued travel documents to the stranded OFWs, grant them out-passes and let the stranded women OFWs leave Jordan after proper compliance of documentation formalities by the Jordan immigration authorities.
Meanwhile, the stranded OFWs conveyed to Monterona that electricity supply at the FWRC during night is cut off and electric heaters are collected out from their rooms amid cold temperature during night. They also alleged that their cell phones were confiscated.
“We call on the PH embassy and labor officials in Amman, Jordan to respect the rights of the stranded women OFWs staying at the FWRC. They must ensure continuous supply of food, water, medicines, electricity, heaters and other needs of the wards,” Monterona added.
Monterona urges Pres. Aquino III to ask the DFA and DoLE to submit a comprehensive report on the numbers and condition of all distressed OFWs temporarily staying at PH embassy and consulate-run Filipino Workers Resource Centers or Bahay Kalinga.
“PNoy should order the DFA and DoLE to fast track the mass repatriation of all distressed and stranded OFWs staying at PH shelters in the Middle East,” Monterona concluded.